It started as a joke… but is male laundry a laughing matter?

It started as a joke… but is male laundry a laughing matter?

Leif Frey, who started the FREY brand with his brother Erin, says the inspiration for their new brand was a college joke.

“We were finally doing our own laundry and we found that all the detergent was clearly tailored towards women.”

“Later, we realised it was a genuine problem. It perpetuates the stereotype that women should do the laundry”.

Their solution was based on the insight that “the modern man has his own hair products, grooming products, deodorants, and everything in between. He deserves his own detergent. Challenged to find a men’s detergent in the laundry aisle, we created FREY to fill the void.”

In its first incarnation as a Kickstarter project in 2014, it was called “Real.”

Research and testing led to the brand being renamed as FREY, repackaged in a sleeker, more prominent, black bottle and slightly repositioned with more sophisticated messaging, including giving increased prominence to its oak and musk “cologne-inspired masculine fragrance”. 

It now uses a number of lines, such as “The detergent that works as hard as you do”, which just so happens to have been used by a number of other ‘masculine’ brands like Chevrolet, Clif energy bars and Carhartt.


Leif says the company is seeing a 50% month on month growth rate and is in talks with big retailers and brand partnerships.

Although the brand is not yet making a profit, the brothers are aiming high. They want to start a revolution. Their website says the “detergent industry… is clearly genderised and outdated” and the brand’s purpose is “absolutely to change that”. They hope “to help break down stereotypes about who should do which household chores.”

“We are helping to catalyse an important discussion and people are paying more and more attention,” Leif says.

They are not the only brand aiming to change the washing world. There are other male detergents on the market including Dirtyboy, Hero Clean and Distinctive. 

In India, Ariel is taking a different approach. Using research that showed how little men did at home and how even 2/3 of children believed doing the laundry was women’s work they launched an advertising campaign to encourage men to “share the load”.  In one ad a father is shown apologising to his grown up daughter for not having set a better example around the house and ends with him helping with the washing. 

Ariel says the advert has been shared 26m times across social media platforms since its launch in February. The initiative has spread and Ariel has partnered with washing machine manufacturers, retailers and even clothes manufacturers. It has been supported and endorsed by a number of famous women too including Melinda Gates and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the latter describing it as “one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever seen”. 

And more importantly, over 1.5 million men have now pledged to “share the load”.

(A summary of that campaign can be seen here )


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